Getting or Renewing Your United States Passport
If you are a United States citizen interested in traveling anywhere outside of the country, you will definitely need to have a passport.
The process of getting a passport is not complicated, but you have to plan ahead and ensure that you have no roadblocks after your trip is booked. You will also need to ensure that your passport does not expire until six months after the completion date of your trip. We will outline the process of applying for a passport for the first time or renewing a passport so that you can have all your bases covered before planning that dream vacation.
Apply for a Passport for the First Time
If you are a first-time applicant for a US Passport, there is a process that you will have to follow to get everything going. You first will need to download the application from the US Department of State website and fill the form out accordingly. The form that should be used by all first-time applicants is the DS-11 form. You are required to apply in person at a passport acceptance facility, typically, any US Post Office.
You will need the following supporting documents to go along with your application form; citizenship evidence, a valid form of identification and proof of relationship document (if you are applying on behalf of a minor that is under 16 years old). Evidence of citizenship document could be a birth certificate showing birth in the United States, an expired US Passport, a naturalization document or Consular Record of Birth Abroad if you were born to a United States citizen outside of the country. Please see link that details all acceptable form of US Citizenship documents . There are also several approved documents that can be used as forms of identification, including; a US issued driver’s license, a military id, a current passport, a naturalization document or a current government issued id.
In addition to the supporting documents, you will need to provide a 2×2 colored photo taken within the last six months. Photographs with test glasses or any other glasses are not accepted.
Calculating Fees and submitting Documents
As of this writing, the fee for a passport book for people that are 16 and older is $110; a passport card will cost you $30. There is also a non-refundable acceptance fee of $35. If you are requesting both the passport book and card, the cost is $140. For child applicants (under 16), the fee for the passport book is $80, and the card is $15. For both, the fee is $95, and the acceptance fee of $35 is also payable. Please note that the passport fee and the acceptance must be made as two separate payments. If you are applying at a Passport Acceptance Facility, credit cards are not an accepted method of payment; you can pay by checks or money orders payable to “US Department of State.” The $35 acceptance fee can be made via money orders, checks and credit cards at most facilities.
The Passport Acceptance Facility will do a quick check of all your documents to ensure that everything is in place and then your documents would be submitted for processing. The standard turnaround time to get your passport is 4-6 weeks.
Renewing a passport
Renewing your passport is a simple process if you are in the United States and doing so by mail. You will need to submit the following documents to complete the renewal process; a properly filled out DS-82 form, your most recent passport, a 2×2 colored photo, name change document if applicable and the fee for the passport. The fee for renewing a passport is the same as applying for the first time. Payments can be made by checks or money orders. You will then mail your documentation, using the United States Postal Service (USPS) only to your designated National Processing Center. Please see a list of centers based on the state that you reside in. https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports/apply-renew-passport/renew-by-mail.html. The standard turnaround time is 4-6 weeks for passport renewals.
Getting a United States Passport Quickly
If you have a trip coming up and you realize that your passport is expired or that one of your children does not have a passport, all is not lost! You can make an appointment at a Passport Agency and get your passport in as quickly as eight (8) business days. You will need to pay an expedited fee of $60 for this service and provide the agency with proof of your trip for processing. Please see link showing list of Agencies for all states; https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports/requirements/where-to-apply/passport-agencies.html.
Finally, getting a United States passport is a pre-requisite for traveling outside of the country, you, therefore, need to be aware of the requirements and ensure that you plan accordingly.